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“It’s not a bug, it’s a feature”; control and injustice in datafied borders

Metcalfe, Philippa 2022. “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature”; control and injustice in datafied borders. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Recentering the political and historical nature of datafied borders as an integral part of the European project, the core of this thesis works to identify, and critically engage with, the functions of datafied borders to better understand how control becomes operationalised and experienced. The questions driving my research focus on the datafied element of enforcing the exclusionary logics that underpin asylum and immigration policies in Europe. I thus conceptualise what this means for the operationalisation of control, as well as potential claims for justice at, and beyond, the border. My research highlights three distinct functions of the datafied border, which I frame as different manifestations of power within and across datafied borders and immigration policy. These consist of; control through categorisation and identification; containment through everyday surveillance; dispossession of rights through (dys)functional data infrastructures.Through seeing the datafied border as exhibiting key manifestations of power, and engaging with the concrete outcomes of their implementation, I argue that we can better to understand how control becomes operationalised toward illegalised migrants and people on the move. This allows us to conceptualise how these three functions further entrench the coloniality of power, where borders remain imperial debris that maintain global power structures (Stoler 2008). However, it also makes clear that datafied borders find new modulations for enacting and operationalising control. Building on this, my empirical work demonstrates how datafied techniques of control become insidious and opaque, removed in physicality but omnipresent in their existence, muddying the outcome and design of immigration and asylum policy, whilst advancing a policy agenda. Through focusing on the manifestations of power, and their impact on the operationalisation of control, we can also better understand where, and how, injustices are experienced and enacted. This allows for a richer discussion of what data (in)justice means both theoretically and practically, and how resistance finds new modulations in which to evade and challenge datafied techniques of control.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 June 2022
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2022 15:32

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